Forty-seven Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies were recently relieved from active duty after an internal audit revealed failed psychological evaluations in background checks dating back to 2016.
The audit was prompted after it was found that a deputy who shot and killed a married couple earlier in September had previously failed a psychological exam.
According to a September 23 letter from Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern, 47 deputies received unsatisfactory “D. Not Suited” evaluations from January 2016 to present and have since been relieved from duty.
The impacted deputies make up around 5% of the department’s staff. They have since been stripped of their powers to arrest, issue citations or use firearms and have been relegated to desk jobs until they can be re-tested. They will still retain their pay and benefits.
Ahern said that follow-up psych evaluations will be scheduled to “resolve this issue as quickly as possible” and assured deputies that they would “return to full duty status once you obtain a ‘suitable’ finding.”
Spokesman Lieutenant Ray Kelly with the department told Fox News that re-tests would take place in the “coming months.”
“We believe the deputies will likely pass the re-test,” Kelly said.
Officials say the re-tests are carried out by certified psychologists credited with the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
The audit came after Alameda County Deputy Devin Williams Jr. shot and killed a married a couple at their home following his shift at the Santa Rita jail.
Williams Jr. had been romantically involved with the woman, who worked as a nurse. He has since been charged with two counts of murder.
Sources said the sheriff relieved the deputies, who failed psych evals due to “liability issues.”
They also told Fox News that the psych exam process under the sheriff is flawed.
At a September 7 news conference, Kelly said that Williams passed all the reference and psychological tests and that there were no red flags that would have impeded him from being hired as a deputy.
The sheriff also stated that their office was under the impression that applicants could be hired even if they received an unsatisfactory score.
“Unfortunately, this is not the case,” Ahern stated after county counsel informed him of the error.
Alameda County public defender Brendon Woods said the news that so many deputies have been unfit for duty over the past eight years could undermine the validity of hundreds of testimonies.
“If these deputies were not fit for duty, then how can we trust them to investigate our clients and testify against them in court? How can we trust them to treat people properly at the jail?”
Woods added that the “revelation could compromise hundreds of cases — closed and pending.”
He is waiting to hear more about the situation from the sheriff’s office.
“It’s infuriating we had to learn about it (the reassignments) from the press.”